Ladies and gentlemen - it’s here. Fantasy football playoffs. Time to reinforce the rosters and plan for glory. We ditched the Yin & Yang format last week in favor of a matchup based approach and we will continue to operate that way moving forward. Since we are in “one and done” territory, immediate matchups will take precedent here. By request, we have included matchups for Week 18 for those folks who’s fantasy seasons include Week 18. Our request is that you hit up your league and get that changed for next year because it can be a nightmare if teams have playoff spots locked up and they decide to rest players. 

Ranking defenses vs. tight ends is not an exact science. The issue is that it doesn’t always work like wide receiver where many times the top corners face the top wide receivers and that’s that. Or running back where teams are simply “good” vs. the run or not. The game plan and personnel can fluctuate making to pinpoint. So our final decision-making isn’t going to only be made based on schedule. What I have done however is use things like points again, DVOA, player grades, available personnel etc. give a basic idea of what matchups are favorable or not to help you mix and match at the position where need be. So the color-coding here is not the end all be all but it should help.

As a reminder, these rankings are Rest of Season. These are the players you want to roster and pair. On Thursday, I will tweet my weekly rankings. So follow me on Twitter here so you don’t miss those!


2023 Fantasy Football Ying Yang Tight End Rankings

Dallas GoedertSEANYGARiNYG
Taysom Hill----
Chigoziem OkonkwoHOUSEAHOUJAX
Gerald EverettLVBUFDENKC
Zach Ertz----

Standalone Tier

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

This week isn’t a great matchup for Travis Kelce. New England always takes away your best asset and Kyle Dugger is a tough assignment. Kelce has never had 100 yards against them. In fact, he’s only ever had more than 70 yards once and that was in 2014. But you’re starting Travis Kelce because he’s Travis Kelce. And, after this, his next two matchups are great. His championship matchup with the Bengals is arguably the easiest matchup for tight ends of any team.

T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

Whether Justin Jefferson plays or not doesn’t affect us all that much - in the games where JJ played earlier this year, Hock led all tight ends in targets. It’s the QB play that scares us. But I just don’t see a world where Hock isn’t a featured part of the offense and his matchups are great. Especially this week when he gets the Bengals. If he struggles against the Bengals of all teams with Nick Mullens though, we have no choice but to look elsewhere.

Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions

The Bears and Eddie Jackson seem to have LaPorta’s number as they’ve held him in check twice now. But the Broncos, along with the Bengals, are easily the worst two teams against the tight end this season. And he has no “killer” matchups on the remaining slate so he’s locked in for us. 

Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

The 49ers are the last scary spot on the schedule so hopefully you have the bye week locked up. But the Steelers are also a tough tight end matchup and McBride cooked them to the tune of eight catches, 89 yards, and a TD. Kyler Murry was hurt and Zach Ertz wasn’t the last time he faced SF so we’ll give him a pass there. Coming off the bye he’s another week removed the groin issue he had so I imagine he’s once again heavily involved here.

Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills

We have good news and bad news. Folks like to get the bad news out of the way so we’ll do that first - he banged up his shoulder a bit. They said he’s “day to day” and the outlook seems good so we’re hopeful about that. The real good news though is that our prediction about the snaps for Dawson Knox was right. They primarily came at the expense of Khalil Shakir, Quintin Morris, and Trent Sherfield. In fact, in the first game back for Knox, Kincaid played the highest percentage of snaps he’s played in four weeks. The matchup with New England championship week is the only big concern for me but we cross that bridge when we get there. 

Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars

We were worried about the schedule for Evan Engram so he was in the “roster two” section last time. But he pretty much just proved he was matchup-proof this week by absolutely lighting up the best defense in the league against the tight end. Compared to the Browns, his schedule of the Ravens, Buccaneers, and Panthers shouldn’t be a problem. With Christian Kirk done for the season, Engram should have no trouble operating out of the slot. And Trevor Lawrence deciding to fight through the injury is the cherry on top as he should be getting the ball out quick. Depending on who else you have, I might hold onto them and consider playing the matchups but no reason to hold players below the “Taysom Hill” line.

Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens

My exact quote last week was this - “I am IN on Isaiah Likely”. And, after this week, I’m even more in. If you are like me and you have Likely paired with someone like Trey McBride, Dalton Kincaid, or David Njoku then you are golden as you can play the matchups and avoid San Francisco for Week 16. But you might not even want to bench him for that one as he has clearly taken over the Mark Andrews role and is now a focal point of this offense. He’s lining up at WR for a ton of snaps and getting the targets.

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

If George Kittle were might tight end, I’d prefer it if I had two tight ends. I really don’t love the fact that the coach admitted that sometimes they ask him to stay in and block on pass plays because he’s good at it so Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel can run free. And we’ve seen in some games when everyone is healthy that he is not heavily involved. But his unique athleticism combined with this amazing offense allows him to do more with less in terms of targets so you are never going to rank him too low. And the Ravens matchup is the only one that really concerns me. Kittle is obviously better in standard and half PPR formats than PPR given his style.

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

Our main concern with David Njoku was that Joe Flacco didn’t connect with him much against the Rams which SHOULD have been a premier matchup for him. Only two catches for 17 yards. But he did get six targets. In fact, Njoku has gotten at least six targets in eight straight games. And he absolutely blew up last week scoring two touchdowns and finishing as the TE1. The Bears are a tricky matchup as they are much better when Eddie Jackson is healthy compared to early in the season (as we’ve seen with Sam LaPorta twice now). But, in this tight end landscape, Njoku is better than most of the options out there. 

Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas Goedert is exactly Dallas Goedert. He is the third fiddle on his team which hurts his upside. He is not much of a threat to score (only nine end zone targets over the last four seasons combined). But they dial up screens for him and get him some looks every single week so he’s reliable, especially in PPR. Don’t love him, don’t hate him. Maybe try to use someone else against the Giants but Goedert should be fine. 

Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys

Early in the year Jake Ferguson was splitting with Peyton Hendershot which was concerning but he returned this week and only ran five routes (Ferguson ran 36 of 49). Despite his tendency to pull off a hurdle every now and again, he’s not super athletic running a 4.81 forty so he’s not likely to rack up huge YAC numbers or break off a long TD like George Kittle. What he does do is get fairly consistent targets in a high-powered offense with enough red-area looks to make you feel all right about starting him. And he doesn’t have any nightmare matchups the rest of the way. I’d still prefer to have a second tight end with some upside rostered but there aren’t 12 stud tight ends out there so you could do worse than Ferg.


Roster Two Tier

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts had been a part-time player virtually all year and then, in Week 13, we saw a change. He ran 90% of the routes and got eight targets. This week, he ran 90% of the routes again and saw six targets (and scored). It’s hard to say we “trust” him given Arthur Smith is still in town and Desmond Ridder is the QB but the upside with his new usage is intriguing. We’d rather not start him against the Panthers but we are holding him.

Darren Waller, New York Giants

This is exactly as simple as it seems. Darren Waller was a focal point of the offense before he got hurt. There are rumblings that he could return. His matchups in Week 16 and Week 17 are great. Don’t let your opponents get a last-minute tight-end upgrade. Especially if you can sneak him into an IR spot.

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

We’ve talked about why this player scares us. Pass blocking. His 13.1% pass block number on he season is dangerously close to that 15% mark but, even worse, he sporadically has games where he blocks on a lot of pass plays. Like against the Raiders when they asked him to help with Maxx Crosby so he blocked on eight pass plays and didn’t catch a pass. He’s had four games this year blocking on 6-8 pass plays and we worry about that. Especially going up against Myles Garrett and the Browns this week. I’d rather not start him if I can avoid it.

Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

This is a good player. And he has a good schedule. But he doesn’t have a good quarterback. And that can make all the difference. Even the shadow of Ben Roethlisberger could zip one down to the seem to Muth or find him in the endzone. But, if we can’t trust the QB or the offense, how can we trust the player? If he does well this week, he has a primo matchup vs. the Bengals the following week. 

Taysom Hill Tier

Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

We mentioned time and time again why Taysom Hill is so risky in fantasy. The ceiling is fun but the floor is terrible. Five games with ~4 or fewer PPR points including one with 0.4. And now add a foot injury on top of that. Not my cup of tea but I know there are risk-takers out there who are going to do their own thing. And I’m done trying to stop ya. 

MUST Roster Two Tier

Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaners

Cade Otton is basically “Dallas Goedert lite”. He’s in a very similar position except he has a worse QB in a worse offense. This fiddle on the team plays a lot of snaps and gets some targets each week. I’m willing to write the Panthers game off as a fluke in a tough matchup for TEs where Mike Evans simply went crazy. In the other games, he’s been targeted fairly regularly so you could do a lot worse than Otton.

Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans

This is a risky player. But he’s uniquely athletic, running the same forty time as George Kittle, so it’s a risk we are sometimes willing to take. At some point here he will break off a big play for a TD which is why we like him more in DFS. But, he’s also quietly gotten four or more targets in eight of the last nine games so he’s not a terrible option in the right matchups. They are just insistent on rotating the tight ends so sometimes he’ll plate 75-80% of the snaps and sometimes it’s more like 50-60%. That’s the risky part. If he does well against Houston this week, he gets them again championship week so keep that in mind.

Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers

We were down with the Gerald Everett spot start against the Broncos as they are terrible vs. the TE. And he did fine. But our concerns were on display again as he once again did not crack 70% of the snaps. Something he has only done one time this year and only three total times since joining the Chargers almost 30 games ago. And he’s never played more than 80% of the snaps in a game. He’s a part-time player. And now with Justin Herbert done for the season, his QB is Easton Stick

Tucker Kraft, Green Bay Packers

I’d rather not rely on Tucker Kraft if I can avoid it. He’s blocked on 13 pass plays over the last two games which is not ideal. But, as long as Luke Musgrave and Christian Watson are out, he’s an okay spot start. It would be easier to take advantage of that if he had better matchups. 

Hunter Henry, New England Patriots

Hunter Henry has essentially been forced into more work with the injuries to Kendrick Bourne, DeVante Parker, DeMario Douglas, and Kayshon Boutte. And he did score two touchdowns this week but on only three targets. Not really trying to chase that.

Dalton Schultz/Brevin JordanHouston Texans 

I’m honestly not trusting either of these guys with the brutal schedule they have remaining. Titans, Browns, Titans again. I don’t want to start a backup tight end vs. them. And I don’t want to start a tight end coming off an injury against them. I will leave that trap play for my opponents.

Tanner Hudson, Cincinnati Bengals

Tanner Hudson gets a couple of targets each week despite his limited routes (and I do mean limited as he’s run 13, 12, 10, and 10 in his last four weeks). The tight end schedule for the Bengals is pretty brutal though and I don’t want to lose my league starting a guy running 10 routes against the Steelers and Chiefs. 

Bottom Tier